Business Community reacting to Immigration proposals

Churches say immigration proposals a plus


Hilary McKeich has been a busy woman. Since taking over as Executive Director of the Indiantown Chamber of Commerce last year, things have been looking up.  Four businesses relocated to the small town last year, and another four to six are in the pipeline for this year.


"We're right in the middle of Florida with three main thoroughfares. You have road, water, and rail," said McKeich in her tidy office on Warfield Boulevard.


The entire town as been designated as an Enterprise Zone, providing tax breaks for new companies and trying to diversify the area's strong agricultural roots.


It's those roots that have many looking to see what kind of immigration law will come out of Washington.  McKeich says her chamber members want a uniform policy.


"Qualified, legal folks in the skill set that they're looking for. We have such a diverse set of people here and a diverse set of jobs," said McKeich.


At the Seminole Country Inn, Fifth generation resident and innkeeper Jonnie Flewelling says there have been fewer immigrants in the past decade as construction jobs became scarce. Too bashful to be on camera, she says as a small business, they can't.. and don't hire illegals.


"We're not able to put ourselves in that position and that's really a hardship because sometimes we desperately need people right then," said Flewelling.


Flewelling hopes the plan also makes some kind of economic sense.


"The resources they use to come into the country that are now diverted into illegal activity could be diverted into appropriate activities and help with support of the states that they live in," she added.


At Holy Cross Catholic Church, a center for this area's large immigrant community, there has also been a lot of reaction.


18 year-old Juana Gaspar knows about the uncertainties of life. She and her father were born in this country.  Her mother and brother were not. Their situation just solidified last year when mom and older brother became citizens.


"He wasn't able to drive. He wasn't able to work as a teenager which mostly his friends kind of did and he wanted that because he wanted to be independent," Gaspar recalled outside the church.


NewsChannel 5 spoke with one man at afternoon mass who has lived illegally in the US for the past 10 years. He works, is married with three kids and wants a more stable existence.


"Because I need a license. I need something good for my family," he said.


Juan Carlos Lasso has served as education director at Holy Cross Catholic Church for the past decade. He knows all the stories here and hopes the immigration issue won't be overly politicized. He says if millions come out of the shadows, the country will bloom.


"The people will have the opportunity to get out from the darkness. Secondly, they will have the proper documents, a permit to work and possibly the ability to go to other countries and come back," said Lasso.


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